by Pete Talbot

At first glance, maybe this was something I should have attended. The Helena Independent Record headline read: Insight offered to bloggers.  Gosh, I thought, I wonder why I didn’t hear about this earlier.

Then some of the names in the story caught my eye: Aaron Flint of the Flint Report, Carl Graham of the Montana Policy Institute, Montana Watchdog, the Franklin Center — all pretty much mouthpieces for right wing and Libertarian causes.

Flint, for example, has a radio show on the Northern Ag Network, a conservative station out of Billings.  He has the Flint Report website, too, that carries headlines like: Tester Profits Off Credit Card Companies and Bullock Gets Testy Over Otter Creek.

The Montana Policy Institute out of Bozeman is a Libertarian think tank that refuses to reveal it’s funding sources.  Perhaps you’ve seen MPI President Carl Graham’s guest columns in your local paper on the wonders of a free market economy.  MPI just finished hosting a “Health Care Freedom Panel” with keynote speaker and MPI Senior Fellow Rob Natelson.

There’s Montana Watchdog, another website, that is sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute and presents itself as a news organization with Front Page links to, well, Natelson’s “Health Care Freedom Panel.”

The Franklin Center, based in North Dakota and Virginia (now there’s a strange pairing) bills itself as an organization dedicated to investigative reporting.  The group’s founder and president, Jason Stverak, is the former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

Here’s a line from the end of the IR story:

Also among them was Big Sky Tea Party Association board member Roger Nummerdor, who thinks it might be time to start doing some blogging.

This all happened last Saturday at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena.

And these guys are joined at the hip.  I don’t begrudge some dudes holding a workshop, spreading the righteous word, maybe having a few beers, chewing the fat.  It’s just that they’re so sneaky about it.  You seldom see them flaunting their right-wing credentials.

Heck, they even fooled the IR reporter, who didn’t mention a thing in her story about these guys’ background.  I’m hoping she was fooled, anyway, because if she knew and didn’t mention it, that’s piss-poor reporting.

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  1. Pogue Mahone

    Couple’a points. The only problem with what these righties spout is that if they DO allow comments, then someone from the left is gonna ram their nonsensical views right back up where the sun don’t shine! That’s why guys like Bobby Nasalsound, the ex-nutty perfesser, ONLY posts on sites that will not allow just anyone to respond! And hence, all you end up with is a site where Budge and Flint and Moore simply echo chamber each other. BOOOOORing!

    The difference with the lefty sites is that there fun, entertaining, insightful, and well-written and researched. Rightie sites, like electricity, tend to be boring, constipated, full of Anynus randian nonsense. And folks soon learn that reading them is a waste of time. It’s NOT entertaining. There are ONLY so many ways to present fascism, and to present it with a human face is impossible. And it’s NOT humorous! The righties are funny as hell! Look at the Tealiban in our current Lege! How man LEFTIES made the national comedy circuit…..EVER?!

    The problem here is that there is NO equivalency here. It’s kind’a like their claim to compassionate conservatism. There is no such thing! It’s one mean, nasty ugly, brutal, unjust giant Aynus Rand! And blogging is the same. They can create all the blogs they want, but no one’s gonna read that horseshit because that’s all they have, horseshit! I mean, who actually READS guys like Robert Nasalsound, the ex-nutty perfesser OTHER than a died in the wool nazi Aynus? No one I’d say.

    • petetalbot

      In all fairness, Pogue, I was just over at Electric City Blog where I left a comment on a pretty interesting thread. I don’t visit there as much as I should but I think the writing is decent and I respect their right to their point of view. The contributors at ECB aren’t trying to hide anything, either.

      The same can’t be said for the Montana Policy Institute and its associated organizations.

      • Pogue Mahone

        There are probably exceptions to everything I guess. But I seriously doubt that e.city gets much traffic beyond a few righties that enjoying knowing that they’re not the only ones out there in the Randian wilderness. Again, their site is TERRIBLY boring. Constipation passes for erudition. Humorlessness is their trademark. And Nasalsound is their guru. They simply can’t let go of their failed belief systems. Trickle down and free markets have run smack into Kochism and corporate fascism. Hard to make that interesting and new again. But we’ll see if the little rightie blogfest get together breathes new life into an effete movement. HEY, they got their own movie now, Atlas Shrugged, so they maybe will do as well as IT did! tee hee.

        • craig runs a good site over at electric city. usually doesn’t cover stuff i am interested in but i respect the way it is run.

          • I know you probably meant the right name, but Craig doesn’t run ECW. Gregg Smith does. He was actually one of the scheduled speakers at this soiree, but had to bow out due to previous commitment. Gregg has also posted about his lack of involvement at the website given IRL concerns. My opinion, but that seems more poorly received on the left than it is the right.

            • petetalbot

              Well, Rob, I had to go to the urban dictionary for “IRL concerns.” In Real Life, right? Unfortunately, there wasn’t a definition for what “real life” is.

            • lizard19

              i appreciate Budge’s POV. i don’t agree with a lot, but it’s worth checking out.

              Gregg has also posted about his lack of involvement at the website given IRL concerns. My opinion, but that seems more poorly received on the left than it is the right.

              what is that even suppose to mean? how you can make that a left/right thing sorta confounds me.

            • Lizard, you’re knee-jerking again. Pogie has noted Gregg’s absence, as I have I. Pogue has noted here and elsewhere that ECW has become the Natelson show. Gregg’s absence has been met on the right side by general crickets, even when he posted about it.

              Gregg’s influence was somewhat moderating to the website. That’s why I think the left has noticed it more than the right has. It’s simply because many of us noticed his influence. That’s not making it a “left/right thing”, and perhaps that’s precisely why you’re confounded. You’re looking for something that isn’t there.

              • lizard19

                thank you for the additional context. i don’t follow the montana blogosphere as closely as you do.

            • I really like Gregg’s writing and his legal insight has been very useful – especially in the trial and tribulations being felt in Great Falls over the electric company debacle. Without Gregg’s input, I find less and less reason to visit ECW – even given my more conservative leanings. Budge rarely posts anything that is comprehesible and when it is, it is usually some kind of economic physco-babble even he can’t make a stand on. Natalson is a complete waste. Travis has made some interesting posts but he isn’t posting all that often anymore either.

  2. Let’s be frank –

    if there was costs/money in blogging, or if there was a real audience, the lefty blogs would fade away, just like lefty talk shows.

    • petetalbot

      Not following your logic, Eric. First, the Huffington Post does pretty well — the most visited blog site on the Internet. Second, why would “costs/money” make the blogs fade away? Third, a “real audience?” Are you not real, Eric?

  3. Steve W

    Let’s be frank.

    The only reason you are posting here, is because you enjoy having an audience.

    Just like me.

    Or is the attraction that you enjoy not having an audience?

    Now be frank

  4. Doug

    Under FWIW:

    MPI is a part of the State Policy Network.

    Apparently there is plenty of linky goodness in the MJ articles linked to and excerpted here:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/04/26/putting-the-thug-in-rethuglican/

  5. Pete,

    Hadn’t seen your post until someone else passed it on, but you should have attended. It was a free event that was open to everyone -and frequently the mic was passed around the room for everyone who was there to be able to speak to the crowd in attendance. I know the attendees would have enjoyed hearing your perspective as well.

    In addition to the folks you mentioned above- I had the pleasure of meeting longtime Democratic legislator Ray Peck who was at the event. Seated with him as I understand was longtime Democratic PSC Commissioner Greg Jergeson. The folks at the Natl Institute on Money and State Politics also gave a presentation- hardly a “righty” institution.

    Too bad you chose to just hang out with like minded friends, and not attend. (or I could probably assume you enjoyed the nice weather on a holiday weekend instead). The rest of us enjoyed meeting folks who we may even at times disagree with- left or right.

    • petetalbot

      As I mentioned above, I’m certainly not opposed to folks getting together for workshops and seminars, no matter their political leanings.

      I thought the coverage of the event was sketchy. If George Soros sponsored an event hosted by me and MT Cowgirl, and brought in Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas as keynote speaker, the headline would read: Left offers insights to bloggers.

      I’m also curious how the event was promoted. I didn’t see any mention of it — I must be on the B-list. I would have gladly posted the particulars here had 4&20, had I known.

      Glad a good time was had by all. I was just trying to point out that the organizers were less than upfront about their affiliations, which seems to be the modus operandi of the Libertarian think tanks.

      P.S. I’d never heard of the Hamm on Wry website. Thanks, interesting site. I think I found the right one — although there is also a Hammon Wry website that features a word-of-the-day and accompanying erotica.

      • I’ll take some blame here in terms of not posting about it. It wasn’t intentional at all – my blogging is in spurts, it seems.

        In the week leading up to it, I really should have put up a post. Truth is tweeting has cut down my blogging and I have been very lame about at least doing a weekly various and sundry which would catch stuff like this.

        I would liked to have gone, but as I tweeted to Aaron, it’s kind of hard to do when you are anonymous. The institute on money and state politics is a very fine resource I’ve used often. MPI is certainly conservative but I honestly do try and read many points of view, and that is one of my sources.

        Pete – Hamm on Wry – a MUST read. I added it to the blogroll a while back (@kevhamm on twitter).

        That, in fact, is another thing that would get caught on a regular various & sundry.

  6. Auntie Lib

    The author of HammonWry was there too. Certainly NOT a right-wing blog!!!

    • That’s right- in fact the HammonWry editor had the funniest line of the day when he said that Montana was looking at creating a state firearm. “I’m just hoping the state firearm won’t be a mailbomb,” he said. Hilarious.

  7. annie bonneau's dad

    I would’ve attended but my goofy noodle costume shrunk in the dryer and rode up in the crotch. Didn’t want to shock anyone with my appearance.

    I have seen these things taken over by guys with strange attachments on the fronts of their cars. When they start tellin me what we’ve all got to do to defeat the evil otherlings, the whole thing becomes useless.

    Someday I might remember the password to the blog I created, and write something.




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